Cameron Rallies, Disposes of Dons
Dragons pull away in fourth quarter
MOUNDSVILLE — The thrill of postseason basketball always brings out the best in every athlete that steps on the court.
Tuesday was no exception as Madonna gritted its teeth and hung with Cameron for three quarters. But in crunch time, it was the Dragons’ leadership and defensive pressure that lifted them to a 52-40 victory in a West Virginia Class A Region One, Section One semifinal at the John Marshall Fieldhouse.
The game was knotted at 30-30 entering the final quarter. That’s when Cameron senior Colby Brown stepped up and drained nine free throws after going just 1 of 6 from the line in the first half.
Sparked by the foul-line prosperity, Cameron broke the tie with a 16-3 run to open the fourth and the Blue Dons had no answer.
“We picked up the full-court pressure, which I think changed the tempo of the game for us,” Cameron coach Tom Hart said. “We forced some turnovers and were able to get the ball back. Then, we were able to execute better on the offensive end.
“Colby was battling for three quarters but he really stepped up in the fourth and started looking for his points. He also knocked down some big foul shots, which he didn’t do in the first. He really picked it up on both ends of the floor.”
Brown paced the Dragons with a double-double, garnering 23 points and 14 rebounds.
“We had an ugly first half but we talked about what we needed to do in the second half,” Brown said. “We just came out and took the ball to the basket. They ran a different defense against us and threw us out of our element in the first half, but we figured it out and got the job done.
“I struggled from the line in the first half but I got there a lot in the second and knocked down some shots. We got an ugly win but it’s better than a pretty loss.”
Just two weeks ago, Cameron had no problem with the Dons in OVAC Tournament action as it collected a 73-48 win, but Madonna coach Chris Blair knew his team was better than the scoreboard showed.
“We haven’t felt like we played to our full capability all year,” Blair said. “Especially the first couple times we played them. We just wanted to put our best effort forward. We felt we could win this game even not having beat them before.
“The kids went out and executed the gameplan pretty well but unfortunately there were about five plays that really turned that game. Give credit to them for maintaining their composure long enough to make some key plays.”
Blair’s squad held a 30-26 edge with moments to go in the third when Hart’s unit got aggressive on defense. The Dragons forced a pair of quick turnovers which led to buckets by Brown and Noah Neely on the other end to wrap up the period in a deadlock.
Cameron regained the lead in the fourth after a Travis Mickey shot kissed the glass and fell through the net and a pair of foul shots from Brown made it a 34-32 advantage. The Dons never saw the lead again as Cameron advanced to the sectional final to face Wheeling Central on Friday.
“The biggest thing is that we are in the postseason now and everyone gets to start over,” Hart said. “Coach Blair had a great gameplan coming in and his kids were fired up and ready to play. That is something we tried to emphasize to our kids, that they are going to be focused and ready to play and we didn’t really get it going until the fourth quarter.”
The Dragons raced out to a 7-0 lead to begin the game when Trey Scott gathered a pair of steals and four points, capped by a 3-pointer from Aidan Lucey, leading to a Blair timeout.
Following the brief talk to his players, Madonna jumped back into the game with an 11-0 run to take a 14-10 lead with 5:40 left in the second.
“We just told them during the timeout about settling down,” Blair said. “We knew they were going to come out swinging and try to get us in a quicker tempo. So, we just told the guys to be patient, slow it down, start with one possession, make a shot and then get a stop and build off of that and we did that.”
Scott was a perfect 5-for-5 at the line for Cameron and finished with nine points, while Travis Mickey added eight points.
Tony Sellitti paced Madonna with 14 points, while Evan Boniti turned in eight.